THE PROBLEM OF EXPRESSION
One way to open the door to their existing abilities and potential for growth is through a process-oriented approach to writing (rather than through a goal-oriented, product approach). Writing can be a way of linking into these rather negatively or positively; for it can either: a) make these students feel like what they have to say is valuable, or b) make them feel unskilled and incompetent because their writing skills are no good. My approach to writing will be to make the students want to improve by making them feel that what they have to say is valuable.
In my reading classes, I sense an eagerness to learn and grow intellectually; as their teacher I have the choice either to link into that eagerness or to push the students into something they can’t handle. In writing, this difference would be apparent. I can either teach them writing skills in a series of manageable steps, or ask them to write a lengthy informative essay. The former would make them feel capable and hopeful; the latter would make them give up.
I am aware that success in school depends upon different variables in a student’s life: motivation, aspiration, values rooted in socioeconomic background, and the attitudes and language expressed at home about the value of education. Lacking any positive sense of these things, the student is usually present in body only during school time. In order to link into their eagerness, I must create first the proper learning environment out of the above factors, for a student’s ability and readiness to learn are affected by his treatment in the learning environment. Students need to feel a welcome part of a “warm” classroom, to know that their cultural background is valued, to perceive themselves as good people, and to dare to try new tasks with the expectation of success. A process-oriented approach to writing can help establish these conditions, because it only presents one manageable skill at a time, and does not move to another skill until the students have mastered the first.
Using a humanistic attitude and accentuating the positive in teaching, I can make the classroom come alive and make a difference in affecting the student’s work and self-concept. Students who feel good about themselves and good about school will be able to take the steps to meet the challenges of writing or any learning; this attitude can then be transferred to the world outside the school as well.
With the remedial student, writing can be seen as a strategy first and a goal within itself second. Approached correctly, writing can become a way to make them aware of the potential in themselves and their ability to achieve it.